When Shelley started across the Deadly Black Wasteland toward Mud Pond, she thought she had plenty of daylight left to get to the other side. She knew there would be a bright half-moon coming up to light the way if it took longer than she anticipated. She had summoned all her courage and was ready.
Stories about the Deadly Black Wasteland were endless. All the families she knew had horrific stories of loved ones starting across and never returning—or returning maimed or emotionally scarred. Being totally out in the open and totally vulnerable to all manner of dangers was very risky even for the most physically fit and fearless. There were hawks and owls to worry about as well as beasts that had no wings or fangs. Even without wings those beasts were incredibly fast. Turtle language had no word for how fast these creatures were, and except for the noise and the fierce wind they made when they went by they were almost invisible. They were the scariest beasts of all because they seemed to have no interest in hunting for food like a normal enemy, and seemed to kill and maim with no interest at all.